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Re: What is the EFF doing exactly?

On Mon, 2 Sep 1996, Vladimir Z. Nuri wrote:

> ah, the quasi-yearly ranting on EFF has started up. what a great
> opportunity for drop-down-drag-dead flamewar.
> Black Unicorn: I resent your holier-than-thou moral posturing
> over EFF, and am going to attack it as representative of other
> criticism I have seen of EFF. 

I, unlike EFF, have never compromised my efforts to make strong crypto,
unescrowed strong crypto, and digitial communications, free from the FUD
spouted by government and media alike.  I, unlike EFF, have never
compromised my efforts to resist the expansion of a wiretap state.  I,
unlike EFF, have never proported to be a political represenative for these
positions and folded under the weakest of pressures like a reed.

> EFF is an organization that is professional and has
> worked toward improving cyberspace. it is easy for someone
> such as yourself to criticize such an organization anonymously,
> but what is the justification of your criticism? to me someone
> who has tried and failed, yet is still trying, is better than 
> someone who has never tried.

I would put forth that you know nothing of my efforts, and therefore are
in no position to judge me.  I would also put forth that the efforts of
EFF, or lack thereof, are quite public.

> what *constructive* 
> alternative to EFF do you propose? if you have none, please shut up.

I think any organization that would apply political pressure rather than
bow to it would be an alternative.  I think an organization in touch
enough with its own policy to prevent its staff and board from making
embarassing big brother type proposals to curtail the ability of any of us
to post without attributation would be an alternative.  I think an
organization without the internal conflict and strife that has clearly
marred EFF in past and made it a laughable attempt at cohesive political
persuasion would be an alternative.  I think an organization that had
official policies on the core issues which it proposes to influence would
be an alternative.

In short, an organization that had even one of the needed elements of
legislative influence.  (Cohesive, directed, persistent, and

> I am tired of people announcing loudly to the world, "well if EFF
> doesn't support [insert my personal jihad here], then they're 
> a bunch of losers who don't deserve anyone's money".

Now who's holier-than-thou?  What is so shocking about announcing that a
given organization does not support my interests and therefore calling on
others who share my interests not to make financial donations to said
organization?  Is there something EFF fears in free speech and political
consensus building?  Perhaps if they had a straightforward policy....

Were I to say that the Clinton administration has accomplished nothing but
oppression (not that this is necessarily my view) and that others should
place their resources elsewhere would you claim that somehow I was in the
wrong?  Political speech is in the air every day.  Learn to live with it,
even if you do not agree with the points contained within.

Phrased another way, who cares what you are tired of hearing?

That's what filters and channel changers and off buttons are for.

> >Why am I any more mistaken  for pointing out that a single influential
> >member of EFF's staff or board is anti-anonymity and yet remains with the
> >organization than you are for pointing out that a single influential
> >member who happened to be anti-anonymity has left?
> get a clue. an organization does not have to officially espouse what
> its members espouse.

No, but when an organization espouses nothing on a given subject key to
its mission, what does that say?  What about when its members espouse
entirely different and even counter productive beliefs?  I would hardly
trust Senator Burns on the board of the ACLU, or a George Pacific
exec on Sierra Club's board.  What's different here?

> what an organization espouses should be carefully
> crafted. if all members feel strongly about an issue, yet all also
> feel that it should not be part of the official plank, then that may be
> a wise decision to leave it out. what an organization does *not* do is as 
> important as what it does do. EFF is learning, by trial and error and the
> hard way, to "choose battles wisely".

I thought its point was to protect cyberspace?  What battles are left
after Digital Telecom, Anonymous Communication, Strong Crypto and CDA?

There aren't many battles to choose.  Let's seem some action.  I can sit
on my hands all day long too, but I will hardly claim to be supporting
hunger prevention in Africa by "thinking very hard about the subject."
(Particularly not when I have accepted money to further that goal).

> I would love to see more info about EFF's new direction. but one
> can ask for such clarification without a rabid style such as your own.

Are you one of those people who still believes you can get more flies with
honey...?  Ever been to Washington, D.C.?

> >In so far as an organization is much defined by those involved, I think it
> >entirely right to wonder aloud about the personal motives of the staff and
> >board.  I think this PARTICULARLY prudent given EFF's reputation and prior
> >conduct.
> blah, blah, blah. why should EFF give the slightest damn what you think
> of them?

Its fairly clear that they don't.  That said, why should I not make that
point known.  "Folks, EFF doesn't give a damn what I think.  If you think
what I think, then they don't give a damn what you think either."  This is
called POLITICS.  They are free to ignore people like me when we comment
that their public appearance is damaging them.  They will also pay the
price for doing so.  What kind of organization proports to support
and then ignores the public?

 if you were at the helm of a competing organization that
> was doing superior work, or a privacy lobbyist with a track record,
> maybe they should listen. as it stands I think they are giving you
> far more respect than you deserve by even responding to your
> various scurrilous insinuations.

Apparently their view of the respect I deserve and yours are disperate.
You yourself admitted that my criticisms were generally represenative.  I
hardly think my worth is the issue.

> why do I see so much of this in cyberspace and on the cpunks list:
> gripes, gripes, gripes by people who have no record themselves of
> doing anything constructive...? the difficulty of doing something
> constructive is proven by the failures, it is not necessarily 
> evidence of incompetence or conspiracies. perhaps you, Unicorn,
> feel the cpunks have a greater track record than EFF? 

I do infact feel the cpunks have a greater track record than EFF.  Tell
me, what has EFF done?  The list of "cypherpunk" accomplishments in terms
of making the net a better place to be is, in my view, significant.
Certainly the discussion here is livelier than anything I've seen from

> >I would be most happy to be proven wrong and see EFF suddenly, in a burst
> >of impressive moral fiber, speak out publically and take some political
> >action to assure anonymous communication.
> I would like you to explain why you feel the need to criticize EFF
> for not necessarily sharing your own agenda.

The same reason I feel free to criticize communism for not sharing my own

You reveal here the basic character of your objection.  You don't like
the fact that I criticized EFF.  It has nothing to do with the fact that
you think EFF has done wonderful and fantastic things (you point to none
in this post) but that you have some emotional fondness for them.  This is
the trap.  EFF _sounds_ good, and so its worth sticking up for.  Well
what, EFF, have you done for us LATELY?

> >Well, let's have a clear official position issued then to end all dispute.
> again, you fail to grasp: EFF may justifiably not want to engage in that
> fight. it might be a wise decision.  who are you to dictate EFF's
> agenda? why are you picking a fight with someone who might be the
> best ally?

If EFF is the best ally then we need to seek others.  They have done
nothing in my view to help keep strong crypto around, to secure a person's
right to speak without a citizen unit I.D. being attached, and to promote,
by extension, free speech.  Look, even you have gotten on my case here for
speaking without revealing my real name.  You think something I said
libelous?  Is it dangerous?  Would you like to contact me further about
it?  What precisely is the need to attach my real name to this work about?
It's about retribution.  It's about the need to see people unable to
really speak as they think, and the need to have words softened so no one
is "hurt."  Forget it.  I will not pay the political and financial price
of revealing my name just to make you, or anyone else, happy.

> >I'm hardly going to support an organization that proports to be
> >pro-internet freedom and yet has no official position on anonyminity. 
> perhaps you would be more influential if you learned to spell what
> you are advocating. (hee, hee)

English is not my first language.  Start paying my hourly rate to type in
the thousands of words and dozens of legal summaries I send to this list
every month and I will begin to proof read carefully.

> > Of
> >course you should expect people to wonder about EFF when you have no
> > official position and yet some staff and board members seem to have a
> >statist bent.
> and you, like many other cypherpunks and cyberspace weasels, 
> have a whine-and-shriek-from-the-shadows bent.

And your point is?

You'd like the shadows lifted?  Speaking without a true name attached is
somehow evil?

> BTW, I reject the claim by some here (e.g. TCM) that the supposed change in
> direction at EFF implies that such an organization is inherently
> top-heavy and will fail in comparison to cypherpunk guerilla-style
> "technology deployment."  it seems to me both the cpunk philosophy
> and the EFF philosophy can coexist, and I really get tired of people
> who can't think past a "only one can exist" worldview.

Why not make some solid arguments for why TCM is wrong then?  Certainly it
appears he is on the mark to me.

> I also don't understand the anonymity fight by cpunks. it's the
> wrong battle imho. ask any remailer operators how their services
> are panning out. they will complain of the incessant spam and
> increasing litigious pressure. I don't see any technological 
> solutions to these problems. if there were, they'd have been 
> invented now. 

This is EFF talking.  "The situation is hopeless, bail now to preserve

> let's face it, anonymity is a pain in the ass
> to support. maybe there are other goals that are more crucial
> that lie at the heart of anonymity. what cpunks are really
> seaking is  "assurance of freedom from retribution". when the
> problem is phrased more openly like that, other solutions become
> possible and worth consideration. anonymity is only one such
> way to achieve this goal. I for one would like to see more
> experimentation with reputation systems. "aw gee, nobody knows what
> one would look like". well, that's the point. 

Explain to me how reputation systems work in the absence of anonymity.
Explain to me when freedom has been anything but "a pain in the ass."

Weakness is all you have to offer.  Offer it to EFF.

I hate lightning - finger for public key - Vote Monarchist
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